A love beyond this life.


Four and a half years ago, a Corvair builder named Ed Jeffko got in his Lycoming powered Glasair and took a flight over the Cascade mountains. He never returned. An extensive search and the passage of years have found no trace.


Ed was a very lucky man. Not for how he was lost, but speaking of the life he had, and specifically the extraordinary woman he shared it with, his wife Claire. When he was missing for 6 months, Claire wrote a very impassioned letter, explaining why she supported her husbands flying, and how it defined the man she loved. The letter is printed below, and it deeply moved nearly everyone who read it. It spoke of a love that was not a selfish desire to posses, but the love that fully supports another’s spirit.


Last week, Claire wrote the letter directly below, an update four years later, to let everyone know that the love she has for Ed, and the example of how he lived has sustained and nurtured her in the passing years. It is a beautiful letter. Nearly all of us have someone, family or friend, who doesn’t understand our need to build and fly. Someone important in our lives that we have never found the right words to have them understand. Perhaps sharing Claire’s letters with these people will allow them to feel what you could not explain.


Claire’s  December 2016 letter:


“Ed and our Glasair were never found. It will be five years come next July that he flew away to be with all the other “birds” that need to fly. Not want, but need to fly. Big difference. I really don’t want to have the plane found, and Ed is not there anymore. But, he is in my heart and I will always say I am married, because I am. No one could take his place. However, I grew strong by little bitty steps and somehow found myself a nice life, laughter, and a treasure trove of friends who shored me up when I could not even walk. Somehow, I knew he would be so pissed if I whined and cried forever about losing him. And, so I did what he always said “he” did…just put one foot in front of the other and keep going forward, and it worked. I learned to run our business without him, I learned how to live with out him. He taught me well. However, I have decided I will find him…when I pass I will be cremated and my ashes flung from an airplane high above the Cascades…He thinks he’s safe ! Ha! At least one molecule will find him! Life is good, and finite. I learned that the hard way. Please always remember that, and be kind and love one another. We are all in the same…well, big ass airplane! –Claire.”




The original 2012 story:  Ed and Claire Jeffko, a love story.



I have exchanged a few emails with Claire Jeffko, and I asked her permission to share with you her letters about her husband Ed. I thought they are very moving letters. It made me think about how we all promise to cherish, love and support on our wedding day, but very few of us can say that we have always fulfilled our vows. Here is a letter from a woman who lived up to hers.


 Last July Ed did not return from a flight in his Glasair over the Cascade mountains. It is very a rugged area, and the accident site has never been found. Many  spouses in the same position would regret their loved one ever flew. Not Claire. Her letter is the finest example of  how real love seeks to support the passions and dreams of a mate:


“William, Thank you for your kind response.  Ed loved everything about flying and I mean everything.  If he could have been a bird, he would’ve.  He flew with the wind and was the most up to date and careful pilot I
 have ever known.

 When I first met Ed over 33 years ago, he was flying a little Cessna
 150.  Green.  We flew every single day we could, which was often.
 After we got married, we had the 150 for about four more years.  Then
 he traded it for a D-4 Cat to work on our property.  Let me tell you,
 a pilot without a plane is a sorry situation.  I could only handle it
 for a year and then forced the issue to  buy another plane as he was
 driving me crazy!!!  So, we bought a Piper Cherokee which we still
 have.  The Piper turned Ed back into the man I knew and loved.  The
 man had to fly.  When the Glasair kit came out we fell in love with it
 and although it took more years than we wanted to complete the plane
 we finished and had it signed off about two years ago.  When our
 grandkids saw the Glasair they were not happy.  After all, we would
 lug all their bikes, trikes, and assorted stuff over the mountains for 23 years.   But, in the Glasair there were but two seats….Grandma and Grandpa seats. Certainly not grandchild friendly. I helped every inch of the way to build that plane and the N number was my birthday.  Flying the Glasair was as close to heaven as we could get, especially with the clear canopy. We essentially were flying our dream.

 And, so last July as he went to pick up one of our grandsons for the
 summer, Ed and the Glasair 743CA went down in the North Cascades,
 taking so many dreams with it.  However,  Ed was a pilot through and
 through and wherever he is, I know he is flying. – Claire“

Claire also added:

“We may never find him. He and that plane were as one. But, I will search for him the rest of my life.”


If you go to a zoo and look at a tiger or a bear in a cage, you will often see them repetitively pacing in a trance. You don’t need to be insightful to understand that a wild animal in a cage looses it mind and all the elements of what made it fascinating in nature. All that remains is its body, and only the most ignorant observer thinks they are seeing the actual animal. On the other end, domesticated animals consider their pen home and are happiest with the security it seems to provide. In extreme cases they will return to, and stay in, their pen even when the barn is burning down.

Men with real value to their lives are neither wild animals nor fully domesticated ones. They have a full range of actions. Most men today have the domesticated end down pat. There are a lot of good aspects of this, but alone, it is unbalanced. Powerful forces of our society steer men to and reward them for becoming fully domesticated. There is no such general acceptance for the man who seeks to have his individual adventure, make his own path, reject the fears he was told to internalize.

Many spouses of both genders, meaning well, seek to protect and shield their mate, to prevent the possibility of any harm. Claire’s letter is the rejection of this. She understood that a large and integral part of the man she loved was a free bird. One can try to justify caging a bird by claiming to ‘protect’ him, but we know this only reduces one to being a warden, not a protector. Her letters speak of fulfilling and supporting all aspects of Ed’s life, all of his passions and facets. Her reward was 33 years with a full person, not half of one.

What makes aviators different? some one from outside of aviation would read Claire’s words as some type of accident story. People inside of aviation, people still committed to having full lives including adventure, read her words as a very moving love story. People outside of flying would only focus on Ed’s accident, and think of his ‘bad luck.’ Aviators, Ed included, would see just the reverse, that Ed was one lucky guy, because he obviously found the right person to share his life with.




About William Wynne
I have been continuously building, testing and flying Corvair engines since 1989. Information, parts and components that we developed and tested are now flying on several hundred Corvair powered aircraft. I earned a Bachelor of Science in Professional Aeronautics and an A&P license from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, and have a proven 20 year track record of effectively teaching homebuilders how to create and fly their own Corvair powered planes. Much of this is chronicled at www.FlyCorvair.com and in more than 50 magazine articles.

One Response to A love beyond this life.

  1. Larry Nelson says:

    Ed was definitely a very lucky man.

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